NDP honours developmental service workers, calls for reliable funding from government

Lisa Gretzky, Ontario NDP community and social services critic, issued the following statement to mark Developmental Service Workers Day.

“New Democrats honour the dedication of developmental service workers who do such an amazing job helping Ontarians with developmental disabilities live full and productive lives in communities across our province.

Wynne delaying tenant protections, creating eviction and rent-hike rush: NDP

Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo and NDP Housing Critic Percy Hatfield demanded Wednesday that Premier Kathleen Wynne stop holding back the implementation of recently-passed tenant protections -- particularly since Wynne's move to delay changes is causing some landlords to ramp up evictions and above-guideline rent increases.

Although new laws to protect tenants were passed in May with the NDP's support, the NDP has discovered Wynne is preventing those laws from coming into force. According to an email from the Minister of Housing’s office, the Liberal government claims it needs 12 months to update the forms.

Horwath hosts Pharmacare roundtable focused on tackling barriers to HIV prevention, treatment

Today, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath hosted a roundtable discussion with people living with HIV and leaders in the fight to improve access to HIV treatment and prevention in Ontario.

A key topic during the discussion was the cost of life-saving drugs to treat and prevent HIV, and the NDP Pharmacare plan. 

“Whether it’s PrEP or HIV treatment, we believe that no one should have to empty their wallet to get the medicine they need,” said Horwath. "I'm committed to implementing Ontario's first universal Pharmacare plan when the NDP forms government in 2018 - giving prescription drug coverage to everyone, regardless of age, income or health status.”

GO electrification delay puts RER projects at risk: Statement by Cheri DiNovo, NDP Critic for Urban Transit

Cheri DiNovo, the NDP critic for Urban Transit, issued the following statement:

“Kathleen Wynne has dragged her feet and taken no action on the GO electrification file. By stalling the start of the environmental assessment until it was already a year behind schedule, Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal government have once again put crucial Regional Express Rail projects at risk.

Today’s announcement shows that Liberals prefer to put their political fortunes ahead of the needs of commuters and those who live, work, and go to school near our rail corridors. People have waited too long for the clean, green electrification of our commuter rail network, but Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government prefers to stage distractions and photo-ops instead of getting the job done. 

The environmental assessment, according to the original timeline, was supposed to be completed by fall, 2016, and all those families living along the Union-Pearson Express corridor were promised electrification ‘by 2017.’ I agree with people who now say that they’ll need to elect a new government in order to finally see progress on electrified Regional Express Rail.

Of course, the Conservatives refuse state their position on electrification. After 17 years as a Conservative politician, including nine years in Harper’s government, their leader is a cut-and-privatize politician – not a believer in public services like transit.”


Wynne’s hydro hike hurts Ontarians

Ontario NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns issued the following statement.

“For months New Democrats have been calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to stop a proposed 20 per cent rate hike on hydro delivery charges. For months, the Liberals have refused to listen to the concerns of Ontarians who’ve said they can’t take another increase to their hydro bills.

Statement from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on Drug Costs and the need for Universal Pharmacare

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement regarding the Canadian Medical Association Journal study, released Monday, on drug costs in Canada:

"A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal paints a picture of a major problem -- one I'm determined to fix with our NDP Pharmacare plan. 

According to the study published in the CMAJ by leading authority Dr. Steve Morgan, Canada has the second highest drug costs for common conditions compared to other countries with universal health care. This new study shows that in order to effectively lower the cost of drugs, we need bargaining power. Only a universal plan will do that - by giving the Government of Ontario the bargaining power of 14 million people.

Dr. Morgan himself joined me in Toronto as I unveiled the details of the NDP's universal Pharmacare plan, and he has fully endorsed it as the best way forward to deliver lower costs, less stress and better health for all Ontarians. It can save millions of dollars -- and it can save lives.

No one should have to empty their wallet to get the medicine they need. I'm committed to implementing Ontario's first Universal Pharmacare plan when the NDP forms government in 2018 - giving prescription drug benefits to everyone, regardless of age, income or health status."


Sign up here to support Andrea Horwath and the NDP's plan for universal pharmacare:

Liberals committed to two-tiered, privatized healthcare: NDP

Ontario NDP Health and Long-Term Care Critic France Gélinas issued the following statement in response to a report released by the Ontario Health Coalition.

“Today’s report by the Ontario Health Coalition revealed further facts about the very troubling two-tiered direction in which Kathleen Wynne is taking Ontario health care. Wynne is building a health care model in which patients -- whether they can afford it or not -- feel pressure to pay up for basic and necessary health care, and the rest of us wait longer while resources are diverted into that private system.

London Wait times out of control following health care cuts

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, London West MPP Peggy Sattler and London-Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong joined with patients and a concerned local physician Monday to shine a light on the growing wait times crisis for surgeries, tests and treatments in the London area after Premier Kathleen Wynne forced millions of dollars and hundreds of positions to be cut.

“Conservative and Wynne Liberal cuts to health care have done serious damage in this community,” said Horwath. “Patients are waiting at every stage of their care and hallway medicine has become common. Can you imagine if it was your young child, in pain and scared, sitting in an ER waiting room hour after hour because the hospital is backed up? Can you imagine how you’d feel if it were your mother, lying in her hospital gown on a gurney in a high-traffic, noisy hospital hallway for days because there’s no room for her? It’s time to start undoing the damage the Liberals have done.” 

Since Kathleen Wynne became premier and froze hospital budgets for four years, LHSC has been forced to publicly announce cuts totaling 113 million dollars and 328 full-time equivalent jobs. Today, the London Free Press reported a further funding shortfall of $28 million for this year, which will result in 160 full-time equivalent health care workers cut. It’s the fifth straight year of a funding shortfall at the hospital.

Now, according to recent news reports, London Health Sciences Centre has been at or above 100 per cent operating capacity for both its acute-care and mental-health beds in every quarter since the beginning of the 2012. Experts agree 85 per cent is the maximum safe capacity. 

For patients, wait times at LHSC are among the longest in the province. 

Horwath, Sattler and Armstrong were joined by Dr. Sharad Rai, a London family physician who is concerned about his patients being forced to wait. 

“My patients, and patients all across this community and province are being forced to wait far too long to get access to the healthcare they need,” said Rai. “It’s time to have a real conversation about how healthcare cutbacks have prolonged wait times in the London area.” 

Also in attendance at the event was Mrs. Beverley McCann, a London senior who has been waiting over 18 months for a double hip replacement.

“I used to be so active,” said Mrs. McCann. “I played golf, I played with my grandchild, but for the past year and a half all I have been able to do is wait.  I feel like my life has been stolen away from me.” 

The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and slashed over 7,000 hospital beds. Wynne’s Liberals have done even more damage with years of frozen budgets and underfunding. Wynne is shortchanging hospitals by at least another $300 million this year.

The NDP has committed to providing strong, predictable base funding for hospitals that will keep up with inflation, population growth and the unique needs in each community. Horwath has called for a moratorium on layoffs of nurses and frontline care providers, and she introduced her party’s plan to create the first universal Pharmacare program, because no one should have to empty their wallet to get the medicine they need. Providing drug coverage for everyone – regardless of age, income or health history – can also play a role in relieving stress on hospitals.

LHSC hip replacement surgery wait:

  • Provincial target: 182 days
  • Provincial wait time: 245 days
  • LHSC wait time: 317 days 

LHSC knee replacement surgery wait:

  • Provincial target: 182 days
  • Provincial wait time: 279 days
  • LHSC wait time: 389 days  

LHSC MRI scan wait:

  • Provincial target: 28 days
  • Provincial wait time: 102 days
  • LHSC wait time: 108 days


Docs show Liberal, Conservative health care cuts hurt families in Kitchener, Waterloo

Grand River Hospital operating above safe capacity, as high as 117 per cent, for 24 months straight

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife released shocking internal government statistics that show Grand River Hospital has been forced to operate multiple units well above safe capacity for 24 consecutive months.

“Years and years of Conservative and Wynne Liberal cuts to health care have done serious damage. Frontline health care staff are being asked to do more with less, and patients are paying the price with longer waits and hallway medicine,” said Horwath, who was in Kitchener with health care workers and patients on Friday.

Families have waited too long for access to autism services: NDP

Monique Taylor, NDP MPP for Hamilton Mountain, and Children and Youth Services Critic, issued the following statement regarding the announcement made by the Minister of Children and Youth Services.

“Families of children with autism in this province have had to fight Premier Wynne to get access to services for their children. New Democrats are proud to have stood with them against a Liberal government that refused to help for 14 long years.

More than once the Liberal government tried to disqualify children older than 5 from the essential services they need despite the voices of families, and evidence from experts on the proven value of early access to IBI and ABA therapies.

After being treated so unfairly for so long by the Wynne government, I don’t blame families for feeling cautious about today’s announcement. We’ll take a close look at the details. What’s certain is that families have already waited too long for access to autism services.  Children with autism shouldn’t have to wait a day longer for the treatment they deserve, let alone until the spring of 2018.”  

Horwath: Liberal, Conservative healthcare cuts hurt Brant families

Brantford General Hospital operating above safe capacity, as high as 136 per cent, for 23 months straight

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released shocking internal government statistics that show Brantford General Hospital has been forced to operate its acute care beds at up to 136 per cent capacity for 23 consecutive months.

“Acute care, mental health and even overflow beds are over capacity at this hospital and many others across the province,” said Horwath who was joined by concerned community members to shine a light on the problem in Brant on Thursday. “This is the result of years and years of Conservative and Liberal government cuts to health care. Frontline health care staff are being asked to do more with less, and patients are paying the price.” 

Documents obtained by the NDP under freedom on information laws show that between January 2015 and November 2016, Brantford General Hospital’s acute care and mental health beds were operating at above safe capacity every day, reaching at times as high as 136 per cent. Experts and the province deem 85 per cent capacity to be the maximum safe capacity limit.

Across the province, nearly 60 per cent of medicine wards at large community hospitals are reporting occupancy rates over the safe standard. 

The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and slashed over 7,000 hospital beds. Wynne’s Liberals have done even more damage, shortchanging hospitals by at least $300 million this year alone. 

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Horwath. “We have to stop the cuts. We have to invest in care. We need a government that’s actually on the side of patients and health care workers, instead of one that just says they are.”

The NDP has committed to providing predictable base funding for hospitals that will keep up with inflation and population growth. Horwath has called for a moratorium on any more nurse layoffs and, just recently, she introduced her party’s plan to create the first universal Pharmacare program, stating her belief that no one should have to empty their wallet just to get the medicine they need. Providing drug coverage for everyone – regardless of age, income or health history – can play a role in relieving stress on hospitals.

Statement by Ontario NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns Wynne won’t stop another hydro rate hike

“Months after the NDP called on the Liberal government in the legislature to stop the 20 per cent rate hike on hydro delivery charges, Kathleen Wynne has done nothing. She just doesn’t get it. Ontarians can’t afford to pay their hydro bills as it is. Each new rate increase is pushing many in the province past their breaking point. 

Instead of listening to people and stopping the sell-off of Hydro One, Premier Wynne went ahead and put her party’s political interests ahead of the public interest. Not only has she handed majority control over Hydro One to private shareholders, but she is doing nothing to stop the utility from jacking up hydro rates for Ontarians even as their CEO gets a 500 per cent pay raise.

This disgusting situation sums up Wynne's attitude toward Ontario families. Only New Democrats have put forward a plan that will fix our broken electricity system, bring down bills by up to 30 per cent for Ontarians, and put Hydro One back into public hands where it belongs.”

Open letter to Mayor John Tory from Toronto NDP MPPs on social housing crisis in the City of Toronto

Cheri DiNovo, Parkdale-High Park NDP MPP, and Peter Tabuns, NDP MPP for Toronto-Danforth, issued the following open letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory addressing his concerns in his letter to Toronto MPPs about the city’s social housing crisis. 


His Worship
Mayor John Tory
City of Toronto
Second Floor, 100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2


Dear Mayor Tory,

Thank you for the letter regarding Toronto's social housing crisis, and the opportunity to reiterate the commitment from Andrea Horwath and the NDP. 

New Democrats are committed to supporting the City of Toronto’s capital repair plan and funding one-third of the repair costs for social housing units, sharing the responsibility equally with the city and the federal government.

Housing Minister Chris Ballard’s response to your letter, that “… the province is more than pulling its weight in making Toronto an even better place to call home and put down roots” is a slap in the face to Torontonians. Premier Kathleen Wynne has allowed Toronto’s social housing units to crumble by refusing to pay the province’s fair share of repairs.

We have requested a meeting with Minister Ballard to discuss the urgent matters raised in your letter, and the impact on Toronto Community Housing units in Parkdale-High Park, Toronto-Danforth and throughout Toronto.

We will once again urge Minister Ballard and the Wynne government to reverse the damage it has done by years of funding cuts to Toronto social housing; and urge the Liberals to finally step up and fund the province’s one-third share of social housing capital repair costs.

Failing that, our commitment to Toronto is solid. Should the NDP form a government in 2018, it will ease the housing crisis in Toronto, in part, by funding the province’s one-third share of social housing repairs.


[Original signed]                                                                               

Cheri DiNovo, MPP, Parkdale-High Park                              
Peter Tabuns, MPP, Toronto-Danforth


Ontarians deserve affordable licensed childcare not empty Liberal promises

Catherine Fife, Ontario NDP Early Years and Child Care Critic, issued the following statement.

“Today’s announcement by Ministers Hunter and Naidoo-Harris does nothing to ease parents’ struggles to find affordable child care in this province. Unfortunately, it was revealed to be little more than a publicity stunt by a Liberal government more concerned about its political fortunes ahead of next year’s election than about the urgent needs of families.

The Wynne Liberals announced a plan to make a plan when it comes to child care and that’s not good enough. The Liberals want credit for years of doing nothing while waiting lists grew and affordable, quality child care became harder to find. Parents deserve action to make affordable, quality, licensed child care spaces available right away.

After 14 years of Liberal government, Ontarians pay the highest child care fees in the nation. For all those moms and dads deciding whether going to work is even worth it, it’s clear the Liberals just don’t get it.”

Quick Facts:

  • There are only enough licensed child care spaces in Ontario for one in five children.
  • Parents in Ontario pay the highest child care fees in the country and wait on the longest lists for subsidized child care.
  • Parents pay an average of $1,152 per child, per month in child care fees
  • Wynne abandoned municipalities, refusing to pay the provincial share of child care costs and forcing municipalities to cut child care spaces.
  • The Liberal government has closed 300 schools, and has another 300 on the chopping block now – some of which housed daycare spaces.

Horwath says Sault byelection has NDP looking to 2018

SAULT STE. MARIE – Thursday’s byelection result shows the NDP overtaking the incumbent Liberals.

Speaking to community members and volunteers in the Sault Thurdsay night, Horwath was looking ahead to 2018. 

“The much bigger fight lies ahead,” she said. “Just a year from now, the people of Sault Ste. Marie – and all Ontarians – will be given a choice not just to change a seat in the assembly, but to change governments. And we’ll give Ontario the choice to elect a government that’s focused on people.

NDP’s Sattler introduces bill to make sexual violence prevention training mandatory for alcohol servers

NDP Women’s Issues critic Peggy Sattler (London West) is tabling a new bill Thursday that requires sexual violence and harassment prevention training be included in Smart Serve, the mandatory training for restaurant and bar owners and employees.

“Servers, bar owners and bartenders are already required to learn to recognize when somebody has had too much to drink and are trained to intervene to stop alcohol service, and help the guest arrange to get home safely,” said Sattler. “It is a natural extension to expand the training to help those in the industry recognize and intervene safely when their customers are at risk of sexual violence or harassment.”

Sattler’s bill, The Safe Night Out Act has widespread support and follows a recommendation from the December 2015 Final Report of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment.  Instead of adopting the recommendation, in September 2016 the Liberals announced funding to develop voluntary sexual violence training for bartenders and servers – an announcement that many, including Toronto bar owner Nick Kennedy, felt did not go far enough. 

“I’m honoured that I’ve been able to work with groups and organizations, such as the Dandelion Project, to serve as a leader in the Toronto service industry and ensure that my staff and patrons are as safe as they can be,” said Kennedy. “Doing this work has shown me that unless training is mandatory, too few restaurants, hotels, and bars will have access to the resources that are needed to adequately train their staff and protect their patrons.”

Toronto City Councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who spoke in support of the bill, agreed. Wong-Tam has already put forward a motion at Toronto City Hall calling for this very step to be taken. 

"All establishments that are profiting from the sale of alcohol have a responsibility to make sure that their guests and their clients get home safely," said Wong-Tam. “I was proud that my motion at City Hall calling for this legislation passed 35 to four, and I hope the government will make MPP Sattler’s bill a priority when they return in the fall.”

The Ontario University Students’ Association (OUSA) has also identified this as a key issue for students, and has spent the last year lobbying the government to introduce this legislation. Speaking in support of Sattler’s bill at Queen’s Park, OUSA president Andrew Clubine said “OUSA is pleased to see MPP Sattler take leadership on this important issue. Bar environments tend to be high-risk areas for sexual violence. By mandating training for management and service staff, the province would be taking a step forward in combatting sexual violence within our communities.” 

“In Ontario, we know that alcohol or drugs were factors in one in five reported sexual assaults, but the actual incidence is likely to be much, much higher,” said Sattler. “Earlier this week, all three parties recognized Sexual Assault Prevention month. My bill would go a long way to preventing sexual violence and harassment by training bystanders how to intervene when they see someone at risk.”

Horwath fights for families, affordability during legislative session

With Ontarians facing a skyrocketing cost of living, Andrea Horwath and the NDP used the spring session of the legislature to lay out big plans to make life more affordable.

In February, Horwath announced her plan to return Hydro One to public hands and lower hydro bills by at least 30 per cent. In April, she announced that the NDP will create the first universal Pharmacare plan in Canada – drug coverage for everyone, so that no one has to empty their wallet to get the medicine they need.

NDP MPP Campbell: Liberal government passing the buck on mercury cleanup

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell says the Wynne Liberals are illegally trying to shift responsibility for the cleanup of mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon River instead of helping communities suffering the consequences of decades of mercury poisoning. 

“Two days ago we learned the government’s plan for cleaning up the Wabigoon River is to offload this responsibility onto somebody else,” explained Campbell during question period this morning. “The Ontario government intends to make Domtar responsible for cleaning up the mercury, even though decades ago the Ontario government formally declared that Domtar is not responsible for cleaning up the mercury.”

Ontario’s Superior Court previously ruled it illegal for the provincial government to pass responsibility for the cleanup to another party. The mercury contamination dates back over 40 years, to a previous owner of the mill site. Since then, residents of the Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations have been dealing with the devastating consequences of multi-generational, community-wide mercury poisoning.

“The premier is well aware that Ontario’s Superior Court has ruled that it is illegal to offload their responsibility. She doesn’t care that what she is doing is illegal. She knows that she will lose this latest court battle,” said Campbell. “Her goal is not to win. Her goal is to delay. All the while, families in Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong are literally dying of mercury poisoning.”

Campbell called on Kathleen Wynne to stop delaying the cleanup, asking, “Will the premier listen to her conscience, stop this pointless delay and get to work cleaning up the mercury once and for all?”